First of all, if you haven’t read Dead and Gone, the latest in Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series, and you have any intention of reading it ever in your lifetime, then stop reading this blog.


 I mean it.

If you’re still here, then I take it you have read the book and are prepared to consider just how seriously I might have miscalled it in my When the Hero You Want Isn’t the Hero She Gets post a few months ago.

Jumping the gun again, you say? (Surely not.)

 Well, okay, so I know that the door is still open for Bill and Sam or other possible supes and that Ms. Harris continues to keep us dangling, but I have done a total turn-around as to what I think the author’s intentions might be.

And, as the tag line for True Blood season two, goes It Hurts So Good.

So, why was I so…well, so wrong?  As someone who learned to look for authorial clues long ago, I thought it was a pivotal turning point in From Dead to Worse when Bill said he would die for Sookie and Eric didn’t.  I took it as one of those Authorial Big Moments When Much Is Revealed – so much so, in fact, that I truly believed Eric was out of the picture.

I wasn’t happy about it, but since authors can be undeniably perverse sometimes (the subject of my previous post’s lament) in giving readers what they want, I thought it was time for Team Eric to throw in the towel.

Not only that – and I’ll admit it right now – I believed the author was foreshadowing Sam.  The guy who’s always been there for her no matter what. 

So, there’s just no denying that I seriously miscalled it.  Seriously.

As those of us who loved and savored the book know, Dead and Gone featured All Eric All the Time until – almost literally – the final pages of the book.  Do I think Ms. Harris is sort of artificially hedging her bets in that final hesitation in order to keep the series going?  Yes, I do.  Do I think that Niall was referring to Eric as the vampire who truly loved her?  Yes, again.

Still, it’s undeniable that self-sacrificing Bill is there once again with the grandiose speeches and the Larger Than Life gestures when he proves without a doubt that he truly is willing to die for Sookie.

After all, Southern gentleman  (and, as a Virginian, I can personally attest to this) are very good with the big talk and the grandiose gestures.  

But it’s Eric who’s seen to her needs for the last few books – from the big ones to the smallest.  And, whatever else goes down, I trust that he will have a damn good explanation on the “I had the plague” level as to why he didn’t come to her when she so desperately needed him.  Hey, he learned to talk about “relationships” in this one. Surely confessing the reason for failing to come to “his woman” can follow that.  

I also think (and it may be a bit Freudian) that it’s very interesting that Ms. Harris used the term “bonded” when referring to Sookie’s ultimate choice in the interview I recently did with her.

Clearly, I’m not the only one loving the book and the direction the author seems to be going. There’s a lively ongoing spoiler discussion on the Let’s Talk Romance Novels forum and I’ve been following it avidly. And, though we may disagree on some pretty basic elements, I think most of us would agree that it takes a very talented writer to stir up and sustain this much discussion – and passion.

As I write this today, Dead and Gone is number one on the NYT list and on my own hometown Washington Post list as well.  That makes me happy. Good writers – great storytellers – deserve big success.  

Genealogygirl, a commentor on my previous post, wondered if I wanted to re-think the Eric Factor, my proposed name for authorial perversity in not allowing heroines to have the hero readers want.  Well, Genaologygirl, words eaten.  Crow consumed. 

We still don’t know where it’s going to end, but my dismissal of Eric as no longer being in the game was wrong. And it truly does Hurt So Good.

-Sandy AAR